Katy Kirbach: Got the Blues for Red
May 20 - June 20, 2010

A cool red rose and a pink cut pink, a collapse and a sold hole, a little less hot - Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons

Katy Kirbach’s paintings focus on her continued interest in elements of ornamentation, repetition, and visual overload. The paintings play with the ‘figure/ground’ relationship, creating a shallow optical space. They are made of paint and paper on canvas, with collage acting as shorthand for hard-edge abstraction: a fast way to create an optical ‘buzz’. Saturation is integral to the work – overwhelming vision to a point of desensitization. The paintings are process-based, employing a material, visual, and tactile logic. They start impulsively, relying on a desire for a specific colour or pattern. Patterns mutate from one canvas to another, as in the paintings River Euphrates and Teec Nos Pos. The offcuts from these two paintings then become the material for Kiss Off. This self-imposed recycling programme is based on the tradition of ‘crazy quilting’, which uses scraps of material to create a haphazard patchwork surface. The title of the exhibition Got the Blues for Red is taken from the name of a nail varnish, whilst also being suggestive of the formalism underpinning Kirbach’s practice. Titles of paintings act as cultural signifiers, often coming from cosmetics, songs, or books; titles also evoke the mindset or attitude of the work. The paintings plunder 20th century abstraction, fashion, textiles, cosmetics, and design. Important influences include the works of Mary Heilmann, Memphis’ plastic laminates, Navajo Eyedazzler weavings, Amish quilts, and Missoni textiles.